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Report: Suicidal troops sent into combat

The_Real_ElRoi

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U.S. military violated own rules on mentally ill troops, newspaper finds
AP
Updated: 10:04 p.m. ET May 13, 2006

HARTFORD, Conn. - U.S. military troops with severe psychological problems have been sent to Iraq or kept in combat, even when superiors have been aware of signs of mental illness, a newspaper reported for Sunday editions.

The Hartford Courant, citing records obtained under the federal Freedom of Information Act and more than 100 interviews of families and military personnel, reported numerous cases in which the military failed to follow its own regulations in screening, treating and evacuating mentally unfit troops from Iraq.

In 1997, Congress ordered the military to assess the mental health of all deploying troops. The newspaper, citing Pentagon statistics, said fewer than 1 in 300 service members were referred to a mental health professional before shipping out for Iraq as of October 2005.

Twenty-two U.S. troops committed suicide in Iraq last year, accounting for nearly one in five of all non-combat deaths and was the highest suicide rate since the war started, the newspaper said.

‘Chemically active time bombs’
Some service members who committed suicide in 2004 and 2005 were kept on duty despite clear signs of mental distress, sometimes after being prescribed antidepressants with little or no mental health counseling or monitoring. Those findings conflict with regulations adopted last year by the Army that caution against the use of antidepressants for “extended deployments.”

“I can’t imagine something more irresponsible than putting a soldier suffering from stress on (antidepressants), when you know these drugs can cause people to become suicidal and homicidal,” said Vera Sharav, president of the Alliance for Human Research Protection. “You’re creating chemically activated time bombs.”

Although Defense Department standards for enlistment disqualify recruits who suffer “persistent post-traumatic symptoms,” the military also is redeploying service members to Iraq who fit that criteria, the newspaper said.

“I’m concerned that people who are symptomatic are being sent back. That has not happened before in our country,” said Dr. Arthur S. Blank, Jr., a Yale-trained psychiatrist who helped to get post-traumatic stress disorder recognized as a diagnosis after the Vietnam War.

‘Recruiting has been a challenge’
The Army’s top mental health expert, Col. Elspeth Ritchie, acknowledged that some deployment practices, such as sending service members diagnosed with post-traumatic stress syndrome back into combat, have been driven in part by a troop shortage.

“The challenge for us ... is that the Army has a mission to fight. And, as you know, recruiting has been a challenge,” she said. “And so we have to weigh the needs of the Army, the needs of the mission, with the soldiers’ personal needs.”

Ritchie insisted the military works hard to prevent suicides, but is a challenge because every soldier has access to a weapon.

Commanders, not medical professionals, have final say over whether a troubled soldier is retained in the war zone. Ritchie and other military officials said they believe most commanders are alert to mental health problems and are open to referring troubled soldiers for treatment.

“Your average commander doesn’t want to deal with a whacked-out soldier. But on the other hand, he doesn’t want to send a message to his troops that if you act up, he’s willing to send you home,” said Maj. Andrew Efaw, a judge advocate general officer in the Army Reserves who handled trial defense for soldiers in northern Iraq last year.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12777489/
 

BubbaBob

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Obviously no one wants troops with psych problems in combat, but if you sent everyone home for acting a little nutty, you'd have lines of folks that want to go home dressing in skirts and acting like Klinger on "Mash" to get shipped home.

BubbaBob
 

The_Real_ElRoi

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BubbaBob said:
Obviously no one wants troops with psych problems in combat, but if you sent everyone home for acting a little nutty, you'd have lines of folks that want to go home dressing in skirts and acting like Klinger on "Mash" to get shipped home.

BubbaBob
Under the present circumstances, could you blame them?
 

ANAV

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Lets assume that a total of 200,000 troops have served in Iraq since the start of the war. That's a Conservative figure I think, it's probably closer to 300,000. Out of those 200,000, 22 have committed suicide. That's 11 for every 100,000 personnel in a three year period or 3.7 per 100,000 per year.

That national average is 10.6 per 100,000 per year, three times . http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/harmaway.cfm So the national average is three times that of deployed troops.

But it would not surprise me the numbers in the military were much higher. Military members face more stress (in combat zones or not) than the average person. And as the article says, military members have easy access to weapons. So I think the military is doing it's part and this story is baseless of glorified by the liberal media.
 

aps

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ANAV said:
Lets assume that a total of 200,000 troops have served in Iraq since the start of the war. That's a Conservative figure I think, it's probably closer to 300,000. Out of those 200,000, 22 have committed suicide. That's 11 for every 100,000 personnel in a three year period or 3.7 per 100,000 per year.

That national average is 10.6 per 100,000 per year, three times . http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/harmaway.cfm So the national average is three times that of deployed troops.

But it would not surprise me the numbers in the military were much higher. Military members face more stress (in combat zones or not) than the average person. And as the article says, military members have easy access to weapons. So I think the military is doing it's part and this story is baseless of glorified by the liberal media.

ANAV, the story is accurate. They are sending troops into Iraq who have some psychological issues. Your deduction that this means that the liberal media is slamming the military is YOUR deduction. The article is based upon facts. What you conclude from those facts is your business. If the media published a story about the number of troops who have had limbs blown off, are you going to blame the liberal media for daring to publish such facts. They are facts. This is WAR. The facts are harsh.

But keep blaming the liberal media for any news that could be perceived as being negative towards the war in Iraq if it makes you feel better. LOL
 

ANAV

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aps said:
ANAV, the story is accurate. They are sending troops into Iraq who have some psychological issues. Your deduction that this means that the liberal media is slamming the military is YOUR deduction. The article is based upon facts. What you conclude from those facts is your business. If the media published a story about the number of troops who have had limbs blown off, are you going to blame the liberal media for daring to publish such facts. They are facts. This is WAR. The facts are harsh.

But keep blaming the liberal media for any news that could be perceived as being negative towards the war in Iraq if it makes you feel better. LOL

I'm not arguing the facts of the story. But why did the article not mention that the national average is three times that of deployed troops? Easy answer, the story would of been less sensational then. Lets tell the whole story.
 

aps

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ANAV said:
I'm not arguing the facts of the story. But why did the article not mention that the national average is three times that of deployed troops? Easy answer, the story would of been less sensational then. Lets tell the whole story.

The point of the story is that men/women who have psychological problems are being sent back into combat. Combat is particularly horrifying, and when people are discharged from the military, "combat veterans" have special laws that apply to them because of what they have gone through. We're going to send someone back into combat who is already experiencing problems? This does not happen to the general population. You're not comparing apples to apples, ANAV.
 

Willoughby

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Lets assume that a total of 200,000 troops have served in Iraq since the start of the war. That's a Conservative figure I think, it's probably closer to 300,000. Out of those 200,000, 22 have committed suicide. That's 11 for every 100,000 personnel in a three year period or 3.7 per 100,000 per year.

That national average is 10.6 per 100,000 per year, three times . http://www.nimh.nih.gov/publicat/harmaway.cfm So the national average is three times that of deployed troops.

But it would not surprise me the numbers in the military were much higher. Military members face more stress (in combat zones or not) than the average person. And as the article says, military members have easy access to weapons. So I think the military is doing it's part and this story is baseless of glorified by the liberal media.

That figure of 22 was only for last year
 

ANAV

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Willoughby said:
That figure of 22 was only for last year

Then that would be 11 per 100,000 compared to 10.6 per 100,000 nationally.
 

The_Real_ElRoi

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ANAV said:
I'm not arguing the facts of the story. But why did the article not mention that the national average is three times that of deployed troops? Easy answer, the story would of been less sensational then. Lets tell the whole story.

Your point is valid. Unfortunately, the mass media in this nation is not so called "liberal." Almost all of the major media outlets in the US are owned by large cooperations. So, I highly doubt that you will get a complete and unbiased story about anything from the regular news media. There is a mountain of factual information about Bush and Cheney and all the rest that is ten times worse than anything CNN or ABC or The New York Times or Washington Post or any other cooperate owned media outlet has ever or will ever release to the public. If you want to get even remotely close to the truth, you have to gather your info from multiple sources. As Oscer Wilde once said, "Truth is never pure and rarely simple."
 
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tryreading

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These two sites give comparisons for military/civilian rates:

Of the confirmed suicides last year, 25 were soldiers deployed to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars — which amounts to 40 percent of the 64 suicides by Army soldiers in Iraq since the conflict began in March 2003.

The suicide rate for the Army has fluctuated over the past 25 years, from a high of 15.8 per 100,000 in 1985 to a low of 9.1 per 100,000 in 2001. Last year it was nearly 13 per 100,000.

The Army recorded 90 suicides in 1993, with a suicide rate of 14.2 per 100,000.

The Army rate is higher than the civilian suicide rate for 2003, which was 10.8 per 100,000, according to the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the Army number tracked closely with the rate for civilians aged 18-34, which was 12.19 per 100,000 in 2003.

When suicides among soldiers in Iraq spiked in the summer of 2003, the Army put together a mental health assessment team that met with troops. Investigators found common threads in the circumstances of the soldiers who committed suicide — including personal financial problems, failed personal relationships and legal problems.
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/12428185/



In 2003, 24 soldiers deployed to Kuwait and Iraq committed suicide - a rate of 17.3 per 100,000. The overall Army suicide rate during the same time period was 12.8 per 100,000 soldiers. This compares to the Army's rate of 12.2 for 2003 and 11.9 from 1995 to 2002.

The suicide rate for deployed troops dropped dramatically in 2004. Swanner said no suicides were reported in January or February, and just one soldier took his own life in March. The cause of another fatality has not yet been determined.

Despite the spike, officials said these figures remain lower than the national average of 21.5 per 100,000 for males ages 20 to 34. This is the age bracket for most U.S. soldiers in Iraq.
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/news/2004/03/mil-040326-afps01.htm
 
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